Today’s Tidbits: August 2, 2018

Today’s Tidbits: August 2, 2018

Here are’s tidbits for August 2, 2018:  Danny Herman passes away; Chris Shank is back at the Pentagon; Jim Maser is new SVP for space at Aerojet Rocketdyne.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Danny Herman Passes Away

Retired NASA engineer Dan Herman passed away last week at the age of 91.  A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, August 5, at the Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home, 9902 Braddock Road, Fairfax, VA, from 1:00-3:00 pm ET.

Known to just about everyone as “Danny,” he spent the early part of his NASA career working on space science missions like Voyager, Pioneer-Venus, Magellan, and Galileo, but in the 1980s became involved in the space station program.  He was a member of the Space Station Task Group that initially defined what began as Space Station Freedom and eventually became the International Space Station.  Howard McCurdy’s book, “The Space Station Decision: Incremental Politics and Technological Choice,” has quite a bit about Danny’s role.

He retired from NASA many years ago, but remained active in the NASA Alumni League.

An obituary is posted at that captures him perfectly: “He will be remembered for his scientific curiosity, love of family, zest for life, luck at poker and dry martinis.”

Your editor knew Danny from his space station days.  He and his delightful wife Rhoda were fixtures at Washington space policy events.  Danny was always full of enthusiasm and you could not find a more devoted NASA champion.  A wonderful, nice, talented guy.  Rest in peace, Danny.  

Chris Shank Back at the Pentagon

Chris Shank, Director, Strategic Capabilities Office, DOD. Credit: DOD

Chris Shank is the new head of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), succeeding Will Roper.  Most recently he was Vice President of the Van Scoyoc lobbying firm, but he has held a number of space-related positions in DOD, NASA, Congress and the private sector over his career.

Shank served as head of the Trump transition team for NASA and the National Science Foundaion, but went over to DOD after the transition as a senior advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force. In that capacity, he helped stand up the new Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (USD/R&E) office now headed by Mike Griffin and of which SCO is part.  Shank and Griffin also worked together at NASA when Griffin was NASA Administrator.  Shank was NASA’s chief of strategic communications and director of strategic investments.Shank served two stints on the staff of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, worked at Honeywell and at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, and was an Air Force officer for 11 years working at the Pentagon, the National Reconnaissance Office, and Air Force Space Command.

Shank has his work cut out for him.  SCO was created by then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to find new applications for existing technologies, but the House Armed Services Committee called for SCO’s elimination or transfer to another part of DOD in the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The final version of the NDAA did not go quite that far, but requires DOD to submit a plan by March 31, 2019 on the future of the office — eliminate, transfer, or retain it.  Federal News Radio had a good segment about the debate over SCO on April 26, 2018 [].

Jim Maser New SVP for Space Business at Aerojet Rocketdyne

Aerojet Rocketdyne announced that Jim Maser is its new Senior Vice President of the Space Business Unit.  He will oversee all NASA programs, defense and commercial launch systems, advanced space and launch strategy programs, and in-space propulsion system programs.

Maser was President of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne before it was acquired by GenCorp and combined with GenCorp’s Aerojet subsidiary to form Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Maser has a long career in propulsion at Boeing, including President of Sea Launch, an international space launch services company of which Boeing was part; SpaceX; Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne; and Pratt & Whitney corporate, where he recently was Vice President of its F135 Program.  He also is the immediate past president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

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